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Plant Variety Rights?

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Here at IPcopy, we like to introduce our readers to every flavour of IP, including some to suit the more adventurous IP-palette. Here, then, is a brief look at the much under-deliberated Plant Variety Right: what is it, why would you want one, and how do you get it?

What is it?

Plant Variety Rights are a lesser-known feature of the intellectual property spectrum that are available to protect any variety of plant that you or your business has bred, discovered or developed. In the UK, Plant Variety Rights (or Plant Breeders’ Rights) are administered by the Plant Variety Rights Office, whilst in the EU the Community Plant Variety Office oversees grant of Community Plant Variety Rights.

What rights would it give me?

A Plant Variety Right entitles the holder to prevent anyone from:

  • producing or reproducing the plant variety;
  • conditioning the plant variety for the purpose of propagation ;
  • offering for sale, selling, or otherwise marketing the plant variety;
  • exporting or importing the plant variety; or
  • stocking the plant variety for any of the purposes mentioned above.

Is my plant variety eligible for a Plant Variety Right?

In addition to being bred, discovered or developed by you or your business, the plant variety must fulfil the criteria of being:

  • novel – the variety has not been sold or otherwise exploited i) in the UK earlier than 1 year before the application date or ii) outside of the UK earlier than 4 years before the application date;
  • distinct – the variety is clearly distinguishable by one or more characteristics from other varieties in existence;
  • uniform – the distinguishing characteristic is uniform; and
  • stable – the distinguishing characteristic, and other characteristics that describe the variety, remain stable after repeated propagation.

How do I get one?

The initial application process requires the submission of various forms, including technical details of the new variety, and payment of an application fee. Seed or plant material is then submitted for examination to test that the variety is, distinct, uniform and stable (known as DUS testing). The examination process typically takes a few years, and an examination fee is payable for each growing period during this time, the exact cost depending on the nature of the plant variety.

Provided that the plant variety fulfils the criteria set out above, the Plant Variety Right is then granted. Subject to yearly renewal fees, the right is granted for a period of 25 years, or 30 years for vines, potatoes and trees.

Want more information?

See here for DEFRA’s helpful information booklet, or get in touch!

Emily Weal      20-November-2012

[ipcopymark - in the US plant varieties can be protected via a plant patent. For more information see here]


1 Comment

  1. [...] designs is one of those backwaters of IP law, a bit of a niche interest like the UPOV treaty for protection of plant varieties. However, this modest sibling of the PCT and Madrid Protocol won a major endorsement on 18 December [...]

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